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This was one of the days with sunshine. A few days earlier the wind was so strong that this lake had mini water tornadoes rolling across it.

Torres del Paine, Chile

Read the original post and follow Song of the Road's overland adventures on their website: Song of the Road.

The Tehuelche Indians, Patagonia’s original inhabitants, called the wind Shamej Gooshe, translated as “The Wind Which Goes Round”. Shamej Gooshe was a mythical being who would drag animals and people into his underground liar and kill them. I thought we…
Quinn checks out the steam engine imported from Germany in 1924.

The Road Less Traveled

Read the original post and follow When Sparks Fly's overland adventures on their website: When Sparks Fly.

After our last post, we had some friends ask why we made the decision to drive directly from Peru to Chile instead of taking the more-commonly taken route via Cuzco and Lake Titicaca into Bolivia before entering Chile. It is…

Surfing with Tortugas!

Read the original post and follow Adventure on Tap's overland adventures on their website: Adventure on Tap.

Arica is the most northern beach town in Chile. We arrived there at the end of a week driving through the (never ending) desert. We were anxious to swim, relax and enjoy the Pacific. Our last surf session was in…
Het einde van de wereld

Het einde van de wereld

Read the original post and follow Amsterdam to Anywhere's overland adventures on their website: Amsterdam to anywhere.

Toen we aan het eind van de Carretera Austral uitkeken over het meer hadden we het gevoel dat we het einde van de bewoonde wereld hadden bereikt. Villa O’Higgins was het laatste dorp op de route en vanaf dit punt…
The endless roads of Argentina. And believe me when they are gravel they feel like they will never end.

Patagonia- Where the road has no end

Read the original post and follow Song of the Road's overland adventures on their website: Song of the Road.

I am not sure anyone can be prepared for the vastness that is Argentina. It is a huge country, separated by thousand upon thousands of miles of open pampa. It feels wild, untouched and uninhabitable in many areas where we…
These are Lago Negro and Lago General Carerra. I would call them sapphire.

Fifty shades of blue

Read the original post and follow Song of the Road's overland adventures on their website: Song of the Road.

So no, this post is not about getting tied up with bungee cords and blind folded with mosquito netting in the back of the XP =). It is about the shades of blue that the Patagonia rivers come in. It…
It happened... we turned north. After 3.5 years, our southbound adventure ended at the small town of Puerto Natales, Chile. We turned around on March 1st to retrace our path through the Patagonian Andes. We had originally planned to drive 400 miles far...

Turning North!

Read the original post and follow Heather And Scotts Adventures's overland adventures on their website: Heather and Scott's Adventures.

It happened… we turned north. After 3.5 years, our southbound adventure ended at the small town of Puerto Natales, Chile. We turned around on March 1st to retrace our path through the Patagonian Andes. We had originally planned to drive…
It took 6000 years of the waves crashing against the marble peninsula for these caves to be formed.

Glacier treks and marble caves

Read the original post and follow Song of the Road's overland adventures on their website: Song of the Road.

I am not sure when it happened, but early on in South America I stopped reading other travelers blogs, even our friends. Part of that was because we never had WIFI, part of it was the more we traveled, the…

Riding out of Patagonia

Read the original post and follow Sturgis Chick's overland adventures on their website: Sturgis Chick.

Before we crossed into Patagonia on our way south I looked it up on Wikipedia, to try and get an idea of exactly where it is, which in general is the lower 1/3 of both Argentina and Chile.  It’s an…
<div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-kRyqRURrtpw/VTOjTZNUlkI/AAAAAAAAHjI/Dwp3j6Wu7ls/s1600/IMG_2576.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-kRyqRURrtpw/VTOjTZNUlkI/AAAAAAAAHjI/Dwp3j6Wu7ls/s1600/IMG_2576.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Strolling around around in Punta Arenas waiting for the mechanics to finish up.</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-8hntWRCMdok/VTOjYa_K8WI/AAAAAAAAHjQ/xOR13KfudYU/s1600/IMG_2590.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-8hntWRCMdok/VTOjYa_K8WI/AAAAAAAAHjQ/xOR13KfudYU/s1600/IMG_2590.JPG" height="368" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>We left our hostel one evening and stumbled upon this scene, literally on our front doorstep. 3 dozen firemen, a half dozen fire trucks, and a greasy hole-in-the-wall lunch place... apparently a little too greasy. Glad we opted to cook for ourselves!</span></div><div><span><br /></span></div><div><span><span>Right after we dropped our last blog, we got an email from Jakob & Nikki, our friends from <a href="http://www.sprintervandiaries.com/" target="_blank">Sprinter Van Diaries</a> (if you're not following them on <a href="https://instagram.com/sprintervandiaries/" target="_blank">Instagram</a>, well, you'd better have a good excuse), that they had arrived in Punta Arena also, so of course we had to meet up! We racked our brains and figured out this was the 7th time we have bumped into each other along the trip. The first time was on our second night in Mexico, way back in San Miguel de Allende, and here we are again together in El Fin del Mundo! I love the overlanding community. We downed a couple of bottles of wine, swapped stories from the road, then whipped up some mean ribs and taters in our pressure cooker (have we mentioned how much we love this thing!?).</span></span></div><div><span><br /></span></div><div><span>After some back and forth to the mechanic's place because the pump wasn't done at the time they'd initially scheduled, we just hung out in the lot waiting for them to finish because we wanted to get some distance covered yet that day. Wrapping up, the mechanic naturally offered to buy Sweetcakes from us, and we had to defer again, mentioning we had a buyer already lined up. With the work done, they had us warm up the engine, then washed and oiled it for us. Looking cool, Christian then had me hop in to drive around and make sure the squealing sound was gone.</span></div><div><br /></div><div><span>Turning on the car, it was immediate that things were already much better. Sweetcakes was whisper quiet. Naturally, that meant the mechanic wanted to speak Spanish with me. “Your wife speaks great Spanish! Why is that?” “Ahhh...she studied in Buenos Aires. 8 years ago. She is good.” “But not you?” “I studied in secondary school. Not college. I studied Japanese in college.” “Ohh!! Chinese!” “....” Lots of mumbled broken Spanish later, we finished going around the block. Super happy [but not about the price tag of $350, or the fact that it was likely caused by the wrong fluid being added by a mechanic back in Bogota], we took off. <span>Immediately we noticed that Sweetcakes turned much better. We had previously thought that the power steering was working well, despite the squealing. It must have been slowly degrading without us noticing.</span>During the border crossing back into Argentina, the Argentine customs agent accidentally canceled our import permit that was still valid [because of the way Chile and Argentina border each other in the south, they often let you keep your import documents since you cross so frequently and saves the customs workers]. After we explained that we were NOT leaving Argentina, but rather coming back in, he hastily redid the document, omitting my last name from the document, spelling the name incorrectly, and in general just trying to get it done as fast as possible to get us out the door. Thankfully the police here haven't been interested in checking the particulars of our documents when we hit checkpoints.</span></div><div><br /></div><div><span>Driving on, we found a small road pull-off that ducked behind a hill along the highway, and called that home for the evening. The drive the following day to Calafate was beautiful, and we enjoyed watching the cows make their way over the land apparently unattended, and were shocked by the huge birds of prey we kept seeing perched on fence posts or just standing on the ground, large enough that nothing else would dare bother them at ground level. As we would drive by, they would [sometimes] hop up into the air and take off, their wing span well over six feet. </span></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-QgbKjNLcivY/VTOjF5Y5FJI/AAAAAAAAHi4/mkTIdaiOs2Y/s1600/IMG_2598.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-QgbKjNLcivY/VTOjF5Y5FJI/AAAAAAAAHi4/mkTIdaiOs2Y/s1600/IMG_2598.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>"The End of the World Route" !!!</span></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-6Y67kOQs7MY/VTOmgfNVopI/AAAAAAAAHl4/lzVMIUXEWBE/s1600/IMG_4169.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-6Y67kOQs7MY/VTOmgfNVopI/AAAAAAAAHl4/lzVMIUXEWBE/s1600/IMG_4169.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Just us and the wide open road.</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-MK11KXF3-bI/VTOjS0UJTTI/AAAAAAAAHjE/2GYP3vpklyc/s1600/IMG_2615.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-MK11KXF3-bI/VTOjS0UJTTI/AAAAAAAAHjE/2GYP3vpklyc/s1600/IMG_2615.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>I got a kick out of this sign. Coins are so hard to come by in Argentina that this grocery store will give you 70 pesos of store credit for turning in 50 pesos of coin (~$4US). As an American this just blows my mind.</span></div><div><span><br /></span></div><div><span>We pulled into the campground, the one recommended by other overlanders as having a fantastic view. We were a little surprised to see several other cars there, but luckily our site was still open. The view was indeed incredible, and we made our way down to the lake after setting up just to take it all in. After wrapping up dinner, we settled down to bed, as we'd decided earlier in the day while in the town of Calafate to go ahead and book a glacier trekking tour. Bethany did the tour when she was studying abroad in Argentina and loved it, so we went for it.</span></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-DDj_RW9cRtY/VTOnUSLDKuI/AAAAAAAAHmY/nNV9k0t_Uas/s1600/IMG_4242.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-DDj_RW9cRtY/VTOnUSLDKuI/AAAAAAAAHmY/nNV9k0t_Uas/s1600/IMG_4242.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-zO8rz78VZpo/VTOnBvbp3yI/AAAAAAAAHmI/LNtOgvMNER8/s1600/IMG_4219.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-zO8rz78VZpo/VTOnBvbp3yI/AAAAAAAAHmI/LNtOgvMNER8/s1600/IMG_4219.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-YwEhaH9TAOg/VTOmwhCfqGI/AAAAAAAAHmA/A6i2B9wDQfA/s1600/IMG_4204.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-YwEhaH9TAOg/VTOmwhCfqGI/AAAAAAAAHmA/A6i2B9wDQfA/s1600/IMG_4204.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-C0yF1isI9k4/VTOouGopSfI/AAAAAAAAHnQ/6xPeFmpeOWM/s1600/IMG_4296.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-C0yF1isI9k4/VTOouGopSfI/AAAAAAAAHnQ/6xPeFmpeOWM/s1600/IMG_4296.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Not a bad place to call home for a couple of nights.</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-R9X__n0WoR4/VTOkVuPOMsI/AAAAAAAAHj4/OgdaRJ36z9M/s1600/IMG_2623.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-R9X__n0WoR4/VTOkVuPOMsI/AAAAAAAAHj4/OgdaRJ36z9M/s1600/IMG_2623.JPG" height="168" width="640"/></a></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-MQ5jUq_rzEE/VTOnnPqbsNI/AAAAAAAAHmg/HwUTHQrgHAs/s1600/IMG_4247.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-MQ5jUq_rzEE/VTOnnPqbsNI/AAAAAAAAHmg/HwUTHQrgHAs/s1600/IMG_4247.JPG" height="640" width="426"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-f2dQoehvre4/VTOn4_gE2DI/AAAAAAAAHmw/ZBwTfBfWXxM/s1600/IMG_4265.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-f2dQoehvre4/VTOn4_gE2DI/AAAAAAAAHmw/ZBwTfBfWXxM/s1600/IMG_4265.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-j0u5l0-nsVo/VTOocrer5xI/AAAAAAAAHnI/v8NZqftbFoY/s1600/IMG_4280.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-j0u5l0-nsVo/VTOocrer5xI/AAAAAAAAHnI/v8NZqftbFoY/s1600/IMG_4280.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><br /></div><div><span>We kinda sorta regretted our decision to do the early tour [9am] as we awoke at 7:15 to pitch blackness and a bright moon still in the sky. South America, your idea of sunrise and sunset is redic. We made our way over towards the port where the tour began, and realized that despite getting up plenty early, it was still going to be a close call. We drove as fast as we felt comfortable with [uhh, what are these things called headlights and why are ours so dim?] as we watched the sun come up, the sky going from black to gray to navy, purple, pink, orange, and yellow. We made our way into the national park, having to pay double what we'd been told the price would be by the tourist info office in town, but it was worth it. We ended up finding some of the trekking tour buses, passing them to make sure we arrived in the parking lot with time to use our now warmed hands to insert our contacts and get ready to go.</span></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-SSOJnCmbtng/VTOjg1zfDEI/AAAAAAAAHjY/b2b8qqw210E/s1600/IMG_2642.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-SSOJnCmbtng/VTOjg1zfDEI/AAAAAAAAHjY/b2b8qqw210E/s1600/IMG_2642.JPG" height="640" width="480"/></a></div><div><span>Blurry, but beautiful, sunrise as seen during our mad dash to the port.</span></div><br /><div><span>The ride on the ferry was marred a bit by the drizzle, but things cleared up as we docked and the crowd shuffled off the boat. We quickly split up into three groups: two huge groups of Spanish speakers and the small group of English speakers. We were introduced to Martin, our guide, who casually informed us it was his second day on the job [he then informed us that he's been a glacial guide for a decade in nearby Chalten]. Bethany was instantly enamored and I spent the rest of the tour watching her bat eyelashes at him and giggle.</span></div><div><br /></div><div><span>We walked to the station where we had our crampons fitted to our shoes, and practiced walking in them. The quiet would periodically be broken by the rumbling thunder of the glacier calving and a huge chunk of ice falling into the water. Making our way out onto the glacier, we got a quick crash course on how to walk on the glaciers to avoid falling and immediately tearing up your hands, then realized it wasn't going to be that crazy as we all walked in single file lines [to prevent dying] and followed well-worn paths. Bethany couldn't help making a snide, “<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFIOTEyMT18">freshest gnar dude</a>!” remark to me under her breath.</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-vNv19l8JBD0/VTOpngJ9TWI/AAAAAAAAHoA/OunvnP0oK2o/s1600/IMG_4363.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-vNv19l8JBD0/VTOpngJ9TWI/AAAAAAAAHoA/OunvnP0oK2o/s1600/IMG_4363.JPG" height="640" width="426"/></a></div><div><span>Argentinians love their mullets! Getting our crampons fitted onto our shoes.</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-HETIrb_xFhs/VTOqBagl2AI/AAAAAAAAHoI/SHXCqJw5MJc/s1600/IMG_4364.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-HETIrb_xFhs/VTOqBagl2AI/AAAAAAAAHoI/SHXCqJw5MJc/s1600/IMG_4364.JPG" height="640" width="426"/></a></div><div><br /></div><div><span>Despite the faux adventure feel, the view was still incredible as we began hiking up the glacier. We learned the thing moves 2 meters a day in the center from the weight of the ice making its way down the mountains and out of the ice field, but only 20-30 centimeters a day along the sides due to the friction of the rocks. We also learned that the ice field is the 3</span><sup>rd</sup><span> largest in the world [after 1: Antarctica and 2: Greenland], and the glacier we were standing on was the 3</span><sup>rd</sup><span> largest of the ice field. Interestingly enough, this is one of the few glaciers in the world that isn't receding. Following the tour, we drove to the </span><i>mirador</i><span> that looks out over the water, had a picnic lunch, and walked along the [new, Bethany informed me] walkways, pausing to get good views of the front of the glacier, the most likely place for ice chunks to fall.</span></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-pNH9y9xQ9Ik/VTOjqYGobRI/AAAAAAAAHjg/Rj7dKqo2Pn0/s1600/IMG_2651.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-pNH9y9xQ9Ik/VTOjqYGobRI/AAAAAAAAHjg/Rj7dKqo2Pn0/s1600/IMG_2651.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Morning sun breaking through the clouds caused the glacier to sparkle.</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-dVAMY23-aH8/VTOpKkXrW8I/AAAAAAAAHno/4IM8w5MMchA/s1600/IMG_4350.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-dVAMY23-aH8/VTOpKkXrW8I/AAAAAAAAHno/4IM8w5MMchA/s1600/IMG_4350.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Qp3yRQ2bCyQ/VTOrAnVCcGI/AAAAAAAAHo8/8rnxS_gJdOI/s1600/IMG_4407.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Qp3yRQ2bCyQ/VTOrAnVCcGI/AAAAAAAAHo8/8rnxS_gJdOI/s1600/IMG_4407.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-3L_8AuDuVMU/VTOqtSP6bjI/AAAAAAAAHow/a0PAUgTM-9Q/s1600/IMG_4402.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-3L_8AuDuVMU/VTOqtSP6bjI/AAAAAAAAHow/a0PAUgTM-9Q/s1600/IMG_4402.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div>Our guide, Martin <3</div><br /><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-MpgzX151-tA/VTOqo9ZOtiI/AAAAAAAAHoo/bxolrYB_t_s/s1600/IMG_4396.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-MpgzX151-tA/VTOqo9ZOtiI/AAAAAAAAHoo/bxolrYB_t_s/s1600/IMG_4396.JPG" height="640" width="426"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-HeMnqEM2jLo/VTOqiRZYWiI/AAAAAAAAHog/tRs9vvw81yo/s1600/IMG_4376.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-HeMnqEM2jLo/VTOqiRZYWiI/AAAAAAAAHog/tRs9vvw81yo/s1600/IMG_4376.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>As the ice becomes more densely packed, the glacier appears to us as a more intense shade of blue. </span></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-RyhfnPYQP9w/VTOqLivq6PI/AAAAAAAAHoU/iEgoRtOuEzk/s1600/IMG_4370.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-RyhfnPYQP9w/VTOqLivq6PI/AAAAAAAAHoU/iEgoRtOuEzk/s1600/IMG_4370.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-pnFhTGTd42o/VTOrBozA86I/AAAAAAAAHpA/j7wFcVferv8/s1600/IMG_4416.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-pnFhTGTd42o/VTOrBozA86I/AAAAAAAAHpA/j7wFcVferv8/s1600/IMG_4416.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Post-trek whiskey with glacier ice? Why not.</span> </div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-pJZumeYt93Y/VTOrhhoVk8I/AAAAAAAAHpI/3hn2cwqxHIw/s1600/IMG_4442.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-pJZumeYt93Y/VTOrhhoVk8I/AAAAAAAAHpI/3hn2cwqxHIw/s1600/IMG_4442.JPG" height="640" width="426"/></a></div><div><span>The rocks along the lake show evidence of the glaciers that previously covered this whole region. Deep grooves show where small stones trapped between the ice and the rock created striations following the glacier's path.</span></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Zm74U2fMIZ4/VTOsDmdfDCI/AAAAAAAAHpo/ZJEy43X8lnM/s1600/IMG_4469.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Zm74U2fMIZ4/VTOsDmdfDCI/AAAAAAAAHpo/ZJEy43X8lnM/s1600/IMG_4469.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-02AkvqWkrbc/VTOrjsgoGBI/AAAAAAAAHpQ/hACGrWfZZR0/s1600/IMG_4459.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-02AkvqWkrbc/VTOrjsgoGBI/AAAAAAAAHpQ/hACGrWfZZR0/s1600/IMG_4459.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-KI_Ndpv3dCM/VTOtGjptjFI/AAAAAAAAHqY/qyO9HP6JP7E/s1600/IMG_4543.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-KI_Ndpv3dCM/VTOtGjptjFI/AAAAAAAAHqY/qyO9HP6JP7E/s1600/IMG_4543.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>A blurry attempt to capture a large chunk of the glacier breaking off and splashing into the lake.</span></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-3F9dyAhxA7U/VTOskx65mMI/AAAAAAAAHp4/H7J9wQDS5N4/s1600/IMG_4489.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-3F9dyAhxA7U/VTOskx65mMI/AAAAAAAAHp4/H7J9wQDS5N4/s1600/IMG_4489.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-0U0FGNRReqY/VTOtFFQFoVI/AAAAAAAAHqQ/587Sp9XSF7o/s1600/IMG_4565.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-0U0FGNRReqY/VTOtFFQFoVI/AAAAAAAAHqQ/587Sp9XSF7o/s1600/IMG_4565.JPG" height="640" width="426"/></a></div><div><span>It took all our effort to resist taking cheesy professional pictures like this one in front of the glacier.</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-wzOUhs44J04/VTOs9D24A8I/AAAAAAAAHqI/ocEfzVViRTk/s1600/IMG_4494.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-wzOUhs44J04/VTOs9D24A8I/AAAAAAAAHqI/ocEfzVViRTk/s1600/IMG_4494.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Clear blue skies, bright fall colors, and a shimmering glacier in the background. Perfection.</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Z6Tu9WFHtIs/VTOsoCP-PII/AAAAAAAAHqA/uMYVVx-NEdU/s1600/IMG_4487.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Z6Tu9WFHtIs/VTOsoCP-PII/AAAAAAAAHqA/uMYVVx-NEdU/s1600/IMG_4487.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><br /></div><div><span>We celebrated our successful trip to the glacier that evening by freezing our butts off, </span><span>occasionally being woken by huge chunks of ice breaking off the glacier and sending thunderous echoes across the lake and through the valley</span><span>, waking up the following morning with frost on the tent, which was just swell as one of the tent zippers finally bit the bullet and would no longer zip shut. We did our best to plug the hole with our coats and shivered the night away.</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-oIzmF7JitHw/VTOsOPWgxCI/AAAAAAAAHpw/FrXOm5-IIAA/s1600/IMG_4480.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-oIzmF7JitHw/VTOsOPWgxCI/AAAAAAAAHpw/FrXOm5-IIAA/s1600/IMG_4480.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>We were surprised to see the band of red trees toward the top of many of the mountains.</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-56UkmPsKxr4/VTOjzhI8K2I/AAAAAAAAHjo/jLbcnJ60Xmc/s1600/IMG_2677.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-56UkmPsKxr4/VTOjzhI8K2I/AAAAAAAAHjo/jLbcnJ60Xmc/s1600/IMG_2677.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Between the 40th & 50th parallels is known as the "roaring 40's" since the only land masses are New Zealand and Patagonia. Apparently the palm trees in the area have a tough time surviving the extreme winds...</span></div><div><br /></div><div><span>The other side of the glacier park was a popular tourist destination as well. Pulling into El Chalten, we noticed the town was nestled at the bottom of a cluster of mountains, in a little circular valley that seemed to be embracing the town. We made our way to several of the campgrounds in town, but all were closed for the season. Our frustration was increased when we popped into a hostel on the edge of town that was decently cheap, but there wasn't any staff around. Apparently the entire town shuts down from 2-6 because several other hostels we visited also didn't have staff around. After hitting up another 6 or so places, we made our way back to the first place and decided to just sit in their parking lot and wait for someone to show up. They finally did, and we grabbed a room and made some dinner, leaving to check out the 'mountain repair shop' to get our tent zipper fixed. How serendipidous! Except the place wasn't open during it's posted hours. Naturally. At least the <i>lavanderia </i>had our clothes done when they said they would.</span></div><div><br /></div><div><span>That evening we met Marcus from Germany, coming back into the hostel with dusk, ragged from completing the hike up to the <i>Laguna de los tres</i>, the big hike to Mt. Fitz-Roy with a trailhead just up the street from our hostel. We bonded over the NBA [being German, he was naturally a Dallas fan because of Dirk Nowitzski] and we got the lowdown on the hike from him: 10km each way, easy and not too strenuous the first 9km, but basically straight up the last km, it took them 8 hours round trip, and they didn't even get to see Mt. Fitz-Roy's peak because of the clouds and precipitation. Bummer! Bethany and I decided to just do the flat part the next day.</span></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-pteIDNeS9AE/VTOtWpCsgiI/AAAAAAAAHqg/BnDd08lOkTE/s1600/IMG_4602.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-pteIDNeS9AE/VTOtWpCsgiI/AAAAAAAAHqg/BnDd08lOkTE/s1600/IMG_4602.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Clouds hid Mt. Fitz-Roy from view as we approached El Chalten. </span></div><br /><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Al3VkbgX7lM/VTOt_uQSWnI/AAAAAAAAHqo/p1BaebxpVDM/s1600/IMG_4609.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Al3VkbgX7lM/VTOt_uQSWnI/AAAAAAAAHqo/p1BaebxpVDM/s1600/IMG_4609.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Loving the fall colors!</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-3thwMK7eUGg/VTOuK9SRx7I/AAAAAAAAHq4/15rpUUVFy9A/s1600/IMG_4619.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-3thwMK7eUGg/VTOuK9SRx7I/AAAAAAAAHq4/15rpUUVFy9A/s1600/IMG_4619.JPG" height="640" width="426"/></a></div><div><br /></div><div><span>We forced ourselves to wake up before the sun the next morning: 7:15. We had breakfast, suited up in our cold weather gear, then started our trek. Just like Marcus said, the first 20 minutes were tough, but then it leveled out and we got to enjoy the views out over the valley. Once the sun peaked out from behind the mountains, it was a perfectly clear day. The trail meandered along the hillsides, down into the valley, through forests bursting with fall colors, and along streams. We enjoyed the clear sky and the view it afforded us of Mt. Fitz-Roy, dominating the valley beneath it. We paused at the </span><i>mirador</i><span>, the 4km mark, and decided to keep strolling on. Just under an hour later, we were passing through the campsite at the base of the hill, aka our ending point. We were a little sore but decided that it wasn't terrible, and made a push for the top. Who boy, it was rough, but miraculously we ended up cresting the top! Our view looked out over the beautiful lake... nope, it was actually one more hill we had to summit. Swear words all around, but darnit, we did it, and then[!] the view was fantastic. We were both stiff and sore, taking time to stretch before settling down for some lunch looking out over the peaks and the lake.</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-cyxKQILf9Ds/VTOmLS_wwBI/AAAAAAAAHlw/l8Lcigha3dY/s1600/IMG_2781.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-cyxKQILf9Ds/VTOmLS_wwBI/AAAAAAAAHlw/l8Lcigha3dY/s1600/IMG_2781.JPG" height="640" width="480"/></a></div><div><span>Yes, we set out on the "!!!!" difficulty trail. :-/</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-H3o5p6uE8XY/VTOkTEjPWTI/AAAAAAAAHjw/jb5EdB8rg8w/s1600/IMG_2695.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-H3o5p6uE8XY/VTOkTEjPWTI/AAAAAAAAHjw/jb5EdB8rg8w/s1600/IMG_2695.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Eb204yNkt9A/VTOk4-TuUyI/AAAAAAAAHkY/o9_X__tPvN4/s1600/IMG_2709.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Eb204yNkt9A/VTOk4-TuUyI/AAAAAAAAHkY/o9_X__tPvN4/s1600/IMG_2709.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>About to tackle the last kilometer</span></div><div><span><br /></span></div><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-o4f3w1JB4YU/VTOvIq6GxeI/AAAAAAAAHrY/uTR0aORGSK0/s1600/IMG_4659.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-o4f3w1JB4YU/VTOvIq6GxeI/AAAAAAAAHrY/uTR0aORGSK0/s1600/IMG_4659.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>This stunning view greeted us as we summited. It then dawned on me who the "tres" were in <i>Lago de las Tres</i>! (Lake of the Three)</span></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-8tYUvLrF9OU/VTOvaxJxD6I/AAAAAAAAHrg/kXOgVLOdKoo/s1600/IMG_4679.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-8tYUvLrF9OU/VTOvaxJxD6I/AAAAAAAAHrg/kXOgVLOdKoo/s1600/IMG_4679.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Loving the reflection in the turquoise water. Note the two guys putting their feet into the water.</span></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-7kTbzz2MXlc/VTOvdqhkGeI/AAAAAAAAHro/8ws34OA4H9Y/s1600/IMG_4677.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-7kTbzz2MXlc/VTOvdqhkGeI/AAAAAAAAHro/8ws34OA4H9Y/s1600/IMG_4677.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Looking back over the lakes from the summit of the trail.</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-TRtJy7tKYrQ/VTOuZ8yNosI/AAAAAAAAHrA/8ql1hrM7XbA/s1600/IMG_4632.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-TRtJy7tKYrQ/VTOuZ8yNosI/AAAAAAAAHrA/8ql1hrM7XbA/s1600/IMG_4632.JPG" height="640" width="426"/></a></div><div><br /></div><div><span>The day wasn't getting any longer, so we began the descent, but quickly realized it was going to be just as hard going down, because the steep bit was more a rock climb than a trail, and due to the cold and precipitation from the previous day, there were little patches of ice on the rocks, so our steps had to be made gingerly, but combined with the sore and stiffness we had, we weren't exactly moving like gymnists, or really even 29 year olds (to be honest). We paused at the stream and filled up with ice cold snow/glacier melt water [hooray for potable mountain streams] and continued on. We were shocked to realize that we were on pace with the athletic group Marcus was a part of the day before! That was sobered a bit by the pain of the 20kms we'd put on. Getting back to the hostel, we promptly plopped down into bed after doing more stretching. The rest of the night was just spent trying to recuperate. We're not too big on the real long hikes and we were paying for it. :) We celebrated our success by making cheeseburgers for dinner.</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Z6xvNo_aPuE/VTOu2LHTJcI/AAAAAAAAHrQ/3Qv43bnN73U/s1600/IMG_4657.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Z6xvNo_aPuE/VTOu2LHTJcI/AAAAAAAAHrQ/3Qv43bnN73U/s1600/IMG_4657.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>More beautiful views as we limped our way back to town.</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Rtkianmu0Us/VTOkvwY_icI/AAAAAAAAHkI/hQxCbIXEYSE/s1600/IMG_2715.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Rtkianmu0Us/VTOkvwY_icI/AAAAAAAAHkI/hQxCbIXEYSE/s1600/IMG_2715.JPG" height="640" width="480"/></a></div><div><span>Where is the love? The bag of Doritoes was depressingly empty when we opened it. Such a big bag, so few chips. :(</span></div><br /><span>We set out the next day, continuing north and running from the cold. Our goal was to camp near the Cave of the Hands. Saddling into the canyon, we descended down steep washboard roads, eventually reaching the bottom of the canyon and tried to find a place out of the wind to spend the night. Once again we saw a guanaco (~llama) carcass spread over a fence. Those poor dumb animals. </span><span>Who knew barbed wire fences could be so deadly?</span><br /><br /><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-aj19y-AT4H8/VTOlM3vmZ8I/AAAAAAAAHkg/LtvWaJZ5fZ0/s1600/IMG_2727.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-aj19y-AT4H8/VTOlM3vmZ8I/AAAAAAAAHkg/LtvWaJZ5fZ0/s1600/IMG_2727.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>View from our wild campsite in the canyon.</span></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-TDapENMG7VI/VTOlarx2G8I/AAAAAAAAHkw/PhfQ5lMjXV8/s1600/IMG_2725.JPG"><span><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-TDapENMG7VI/VTOlarx2G8I/AAAAAAAAHkw/PhfQ5lMjXV8/s1600/IMG_2725.JPG" height="640" width="480"/></span></a></div><div><span>Bummer, dude.</span></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-IjJDLU_f9qM/VTOlN7i3KrI/AAAAAAAAHko/sEtFlpHqHZ8/s1600/IMG_2730.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-IjJDLU_f9qM/VTOlN7i3KrI/AAAAAAAAHko/sEtFlpHqHZ8/s1600/IMG_2730.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Typical dining experience here in cold/windy Patagonia: dinner crammed inside the car while watching an episode of Simpsons. Wine glasses (obv).</span></div><div><br /></div><div><span><i>Cueva de las Manos</i> is a bit of a misnomer; there is a cave, but the famous handprints line the walls outside of the cave, which is more of a windbreak than a true cave. Archaeologists believe the handprints were done to show possession of and connection to the land. Using various minerals found in the area to make different colors [ochre, red, orange, yellow, purple, and even green], they mixed them with a liquid agent and would either blow the paint through a hollow guanaco bone or just place it in their mouth and blow it out. <span>Prehistoric spray paint!</span> Men, women, and children all participated in the process. The oldest [and most basic] versions date from an estimated 11,000 years ago. In addition to the hand prints, there are depictions of guanacos being hunted. The newer batch date from [only] 7000 years ago, and include the bi-color technique, where a color base would be painted on first, then the handprint with paint blown around it. The depictions of guanacos also changed in this new style. The final change we witnessed was a shift to incorporate abstract ideas, as well as what is believed to be a map, with discrete dots representing either time or places along the travels. The tour was accompanied by warmer than average temperatures, so we loved getting to stretch our legs, peel off our sweatshirts and jackets, and enjoy the scenery. We also met Robert, a German traveling in a truck with camper, spending 6 months in Patagonia after doing a year-long trip from NYC to Ushuaia with his wife and dog the previous year.</span></div><div><br /></div><div><span>Sharing stories, we again came across someone who's only safety issue during their overland trip happened in America. Robert and his wife were in Texas [I know, I know] walking their dog. They took a walk through unmarked private land, and upon returning to their vehicle they were met by a man who drew a gun on them and told them he had the legal right to shoot them where they stood. At first they thought it was a joke, but the man made it very clear to them that they needed to leave, immediately, never taking his gun off of them and telling them again he could shoot them if he wanted to. If you're thinking to yourself, “That's terrible! I hope he wasn't soured on America, because most people in America are great and welcoming and it's not like that!”, 1) I agree and 2) there's some hypocrisy to not extend that to many of the 'dangerous' countries we've visited on this trip.</span></div><div><br /></div><div><span>Quick tangent: we listened to a really interesting podcast about fear, some of which we agreed with, some of which we didn't. Listen to the first 5-7 minutes of <a href="http://www.npr.org/programs/invisibilia/377515477/fearless">this podcast</a>, we found it really resonated with us.</span></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-yWEHaE20lV0/VTOxRENwarI/AAAAAAAAHsk/OmRS8aI4qq0/s1600/IMG_4726.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-yWEHaE20lV0/VTOxRENwarI/AAAAAAAAHsk/OmRS8aI4qq0/s1600/IMG_4726.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>A lack of genetic diversity led to some abnormalities... See it?</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-VPy4sRU4wPI/VTOwT_Nv1zI/AAAAAAAAHsA/sUSiS2KBnaY/s1600/IMG_4723.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-VPy4sRU4wPI/VTOwT_Nv1zI/AAAAAAAAHsA/sUSiS2KBnaY/s1600/IMG_4723.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>The lizard thing is said to be a maleficent mystical creature for the people that inhabited the area.</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-GcMW4-MXWCg/VTOwZKZ1UyI/AAAAAAAAHsI/2j-AINFNWqE/s1600/IMG_4724.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-GcMW4-MXWCg/VTOwZKZ1UyI/AAAAAAAAHsI/2j-AINFNWqE/s1600/IMG_4724.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>See the rhea (ostrich) footprints?</span></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-1CSNz2n36CA/VTOxQp0ug2I/AAAAAAAAHsY/DQvbgRzF5nU/s1600/IMG_4740.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-1CSNz2n36CA/VTOxQp0ug2I/AAAAAAAAHsY/DQvbgRzF5nU/s1600/IMG_4740.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Guanaco hunting scene.</span></div><div><br /></div><div><span>After the caves, we headed toward the border, hoping to cross before the end of the day. Naturally, that meant when we stopped for lunch we had to cook all of our stuff. We thought about stopping at a campsite in the border town, but the price seemed too much, so we went to the border. Turned out there are currently strikes in Chile, and the border crossing was only open 4 hours throughout the day, and we'd need to wait around past dark to get across. Cutting our losses, we went back to the campground, and took a walk around town. Bethany met her new favorite buddy </span><span>(Ike was equally, if not more, enamored)</span><span>: a dog that found us along the walk and promptly followed us all around town. The best part was when it saw a dirty diaper and immediately hopped on it and started rolling around to get every ounce of scent onto himself. We weren't too keen on keeping him around now, which was great because he ran ahead to a guy walking on the sidewalk who saw him and quickly reached down to pet him </span><span>(oblivious to the fact that mere seconds earlier the dog was rolling around in the dirty diaper)</span><span>. The dog had a new best friend, and so we bid the dog farewell.</span></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-JpwGM0JU3lM/VTOlm-1cqdI/AAAAAAAAHlA/P9sa_uH7qdE/s1600/IMG_2748.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-JpwGM0JU3lM/VTOlm-1cqdI/AAAAAAAAHlA/P9sa_uH7qdE/s1600/IMG_2748.JPG" height="640" width="480"/></a></div><div><span>Our tour guide, pre-diaper frolicking</span></div><div><br /></div><div><span>Setting up camp, a man came up to us after pulling in with his wife in their camper truck. He mentioned to us that he'd parked behind us in the parking lot for the glacier trekking tour a few days ago. With the wind and cool air that evening, Pablo invited us over to hang out in their wind shelter. We brought a bottle of wine with us, and enjoyed the warmth from the fire. Pablo was a pro at making a fire as he's a charcoal salesman. His wife Ana is a graphic designer, and they were on a two week Patagonian road trip. Bethany had to do all the talking, of course, but that's why we brought the wine. Bethany said, “I think I'd had enough wine that it wasn't making me better at speaking Spanish, but I'd moved into the zone where I couldn't remember words I definitely knew.” </span><span>(Come on, give me a break. We had already downed 2 bottles before heading over to join Pablo & Ana!)</span><span> Hahah fair enough.</span></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-1I9SSStfL5s/VTOlddivGAI/AAAAAAAAHk4/zvG9KUCt6zQ/s1600/IMG_2753.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-1I9SSStfL5s/VTOlddivGAI/AAAAAAAAHk4/zvG9KUCt6zQ/s1600/IMG_2753.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>BBQ and mucho vino with new friends Pablo & Ana, from Argentina's Atlantic coast</span></div><br /><span>We had to get up before dawn again the next day to make it to the border during the single hour it was open in the morning, but once through [and after they took our split peas, which had survived other crossings into Chile. BOOO] we enjoyed the fantastic views of Lago Buenos Aires / Lago General Carrera</span><i> </i><span>[different names in the two countries] and its crystalline turquoise waters. The only thing marring the drive was the rough washboard roads, but to be fair, we knew these were coming. Turning off the already rural road, we drove back into the </span><i>Valle de Exploradores</i><span>, which, despite the clouds and light drizzle, was extraordinarily beautiful. In fact, the low clouds wreathing the mountains maybe even enhanced the view. We passed dozens [!] of waterfalls on our way back into the valley. The 55 km drive took us an hour and a half, and we tried to stay positive with the view as road conditions deteriorated and the rain and fog picked up.</span><br /><br /><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-JMl3q8SFI24/VTOl04PkjgI/AAAAAAAAHlQ/eTzbWG6iuEY/s1600/IMG_2761.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-JMl3q8SFI24/VTOl04PkjgI/AAAAAAAAHlQ/eTzbWG6iuEY/s1600/IMG_2761.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Ominous skies as we set off on the Carretera Austral.</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-e23GKvCoF7k/VTOloLA2CHI/AAAAAAAAHlI/Vnq1aWYN97A/s1600/IMG_2757.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-e23GKvCoF7k/VTOloLA2CHI/AAAAAAAAHlI/Vnq1aWYN97A/s1600/IMG_2757.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-aeet-nY26Ow/VTOl6ArBUAI/AAAAAAAAHlg/rS14j2vjILk/s1600/IMG_2765.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-aeet-nY26Ow/VTOl6ArBUAI/AAAAAAAAHlg/rS14j2vjILk/s1600/IMG_2765.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Stopping for a lunch break along Lago General Carrera.</span></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-QFJ3BPycZY8/VTOxvl2-UdI/AAAAAAAAHs8/V1SubXvvyPw/s1600/IMG_4785.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-QFJ3BPycZY8/VTOxvl2-UdI/AAAAAAAAHs8/V1SubXvvyPw/s1600/IMG_4785.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>The road hugged the lake and the mountain for the first several hours.</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-xhc5P98J6Dg/VTOxvt18mRI/AAAAAAAAHs4/aPf97uIs-uM/s1600/IMG_4777.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-xhc5P98J6Dg/VTOxvt18mRI/AAAAAAAAHs4/aPf97uIs-uM/s1600/IMG_4777.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-7bpsEkv2kc4/VTOxqPpGQHI/AAAAAAAAHss/a_wfwNofyfA/s1600/IMG_4801.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-7bpsEkv2kc4/VTOxqPpGQHI/AAAAAAAAHss/a_wfwNofyfA/s1600/IMG_4801.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-T-bLMclR324/VTOl5tjwgZI/AAAAAAAAHlc/YR8pkd9CJz4/s1600/IMG_2771.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-T-bLMclR324/VTOl5tjwgZI/AAAAAAAAHlc/YR8pkd9CJz4/s1600/IMG_2771.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><br /><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-z-yFhhR7mnk/VTOmHJA8wKI/AAAAAAAAHlo/PJXoxoB4I8Q/s1600/IMG_2773.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-z-yFhhR7mnk/VTOmHJA8wKI/AAAAAAAAHlo/PJXoxoB4I8Q/s1600/IMG_2773.JPG" height="640" width="480"/></a></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Mm5mSOP9ScQ/VTOyBdQpImI/AAAAAAAAHtE/Cw0ZR7nad_0/s1600/IMG_4810.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Mm5mSOP9ScQ/VTOyBdQpImI/AAAAAAAAHtE/Cw0ZR7nad_0/s1600/IMG_4810.JPG" height="640" width="426"/></a></div><div><span>One of dozens of waterfalls in the Valle de Exploradores.</span></div><div><span><br /></span></div><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-q2FmAGDBtiw/VTbUucoXRSI/AAAAAAAAH1w/R7Fui2bIU38/s1600/IMG_4811.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-q2FmAGDBtiw/VTbUucoXRSI/AAAAAAAAH1w/R7Fui2bIU38/s1600/IMG_4811.JPG" height="426" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>The fog was a bit of a bummer because it hid much of the scenery, but it transformed the valley to a mystical place.</span></div><div><br /></div><div><span>The destination we were shooting for was a German hostel that allowed camping and was reasonably priced at $1.50 per person, which, given the exorbitant costs of camping in Chile, seemed great! Arriving, we were promptly told that to camp was $5 per person; if we wanted to shower it was an additional $2.25. Uhh. The woman went and got her husband to show us around the campsite. Asking about the price discrepancy, he informed us that the cheap camping was if we'd sleep in our car instead of in a tent campsite, and pointed to the 'parking lot' across the road: a grassy and muddy 'lane' that was flooded. He talked our ears off in the rain, showing us every square inch in the place. It wasn't a particularly great setup, but with the rain coming down, we figured we could at least use the covered space to get out of the rain, and agreed to stay.</span></div><div><br /></div><div><span>Things became a comedy of errors from there. The covered space had no chairs or tables, and our chairs [on top of the car] were soaked, so we'd have to sit in the dirt. Well, we could dry the chairs out with a fire and set up our own table though, so I asked the man if we could light a fire in the space, since there was wood and an ash pile. “No. I told you that the wood is for visitors next week.” So now we were back to making food at our car, negating the benefit of the covered space. We set up our tent in the rain, and the tent space, “very soft because we put the shavings from our woodworking here!”, was like a sponge to the rain, which then started seeping from the ground up into the tent. Coming back from the bathroom, Bethany informed me that the toilet wasn't refilling, which meant it wouldn't flush anymore. After prepping the chicken for dinner, I went to the room with the water faucet to wash my hands. But the room was occupied by the live-in carpenter, and we'd been explicitly told on our 'tour' that he has precedence over the guests. Muttering to myself, I washed the raw chicken juice off my hands in a puddle on the ground, then walked back to the car.</span></div><div><br /></div><div><span>After our dinner, which at least was delicious, Bethany went to the tent, and started swearing. The tent has vents on the top that can be velcro'd open; in the rain, they'd acted as wicks and had been wicking rainwater into the roof of the tent and depositing it on our bedding, which was now soaked. Icing on the cake was that on top of all that, a bird had apparently landed under the rain guard, hopped on in through the gap in the tent wall from the broken zipper, and promptly pooped on our [wet] bedding. Let this just prove that life on the road isn't always great. The next morning we amused ourselves by trying to think of worse places we'd camped. Of the over 100 places we'd been, this had to be in the bottom three. HOORAY!</span></div><div><span><br /></span></div><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-YToNQbVYf5o/VTbTnPCfJDI/AAAAAAAAH0o/oxB9eaIVfLM/s1600/IMG_2789.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-YToNQbVYf5o/VTbTnPCfJDI/AAAAAAAAH0o/oxB9eaIVfLM/s1600/IMG_2789.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Mate statue!</span></div><div></div><div><br /></div><div><span>Fleeing from the terrible place, we drove towards civilization, again trying to appreciate the views. We arrived in Coyhaique in the early afternoon, climbing up the steep, gnarly lane into the Albergue [Hostel] Salamandar. Getting out, I saw a gringo smoking a cigarette on the deck of the lodge. “I'm looking for Tim?” “Right here,” came the reply, tinged with a British accent. Tim took over the hostel with his Chilean wife Maria last year. The lodge has a wide open common room with a wood burning stove, fast internet, and it's a beautiful wooden lodge. We told Tim we'd be back shortly after we found a mechanic in town that could do some muffler work for us, as the darn washboard had cracked our rusty exhaust for the third time.</span></div><div><br /></div><div><span>Unfortunately, it was Saturday afternoon, so everywhere was closed, and our list of items that needed work had grown: the muffler, a new-found hole in the chassis, the windshield wiper fluid line, and several of our windows refused to lower. The window one was also quite concerning: when we were at the border we noticed the rear window was no longer working. The rear motor is notorious for going out, but we also realized that both backseat windows and the front passenger window weren't working either. We decided we didn't want to risk the drive on the rough road and getting stranded in the boonies with a broken frame, so we figured we'd camp out for the weekend and try again Monday. We were feeling pretty down at this point, because it seemed like all these minor problems kept snowballing into one giant ball of frustrations.</span></div><div><br /></div><div><span>Thankfully, camping out here turned out to be a fantastic decision. We got down to work right away and Bethany used some of our extra screen we'd brought [to keep bugs out when sleeping in the car] to patch the broken zipper in the tent, which we immediately put to use that night. We also met Daniel and Maria from Brasil, overlanders two months into their trip, heading north. We became fast friends, making dinner together the following evening and sharing stories and drinks until the wee hours of the morning.</span></div><div><span><br /></span></div><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-mfrgRW1wg_A/VTbUhn6v6AI/AAAAAAAAH1g/OhhCVKKLBOY/s1600/IMG_2805.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-mfrgRW1wg_A/VTbUhn6v6AI/AAAAAAAAH1g/OhhCVKKLBOY/s1600/IMG_2805.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>After a scrumptious dinner with new friends Daniel & Rosa from <a href="https://www.facebook.com/freebirdsBR" target="_blank">FreebirdsBR</a> (check out their sweet drone <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6g9Zbh84WG8&feature=youtu.be" target="_blank">video</a> from the Carretera Austral!)</span></div><div><br /></div><div><span>Sunday we drove up to the national reserve on the mountain overlooking the city, pulled up to see a large sign saying the park rangers were observing the strike as a sign of solidarity. Shrugging, we hopped the fence and started our hike. “The sign said they wouldn't 'attend the public', well, we don't need attending and we already bought national park passes!” Bethany quipped.</span></div><div><span><br /></span></div><div><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-h5cAjLgJbjE/VTbTyHTMIMI/AAAAAAAAH0w/zfh_GhnQ2-A/s1600/IMG_2790.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-h5cAjLgJbjE/VTbTyHTMIMI/AAAAAAAAH0w/zfh_GhnQ2-A/s1600/IMG_2790.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>"Park rangers are participating in the strike. We are not attending the public."</span></div><div><br /></div><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-pkS4S5QZ7dU/VTbUt6inogI/AAAAAAAAH1s/m4ue3mYlJ0c/s1600/IMG_2797.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-pkS4S5QZ7dU/VTbUt6inogI/AAAAAAAAH1s/m4ue3mYlJ0c/s1600/IMG_2797.JPG" height="640" width="480"/></a></div><div><span>Screw it, we're doin' it live. Hop that fence!</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-wpZG4hFsrBA/VTbUKHJ6y3I/AAAAAAAAH1I/VGHfsijUADQ/s1600/IMG_2793.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-wpZG4hFsrBA/VTbUKHJ6y3I/AAAAAAAAH1I/VGHfsijUADQ/s1600/IMG_2793.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Encountered this funky tree on our hike.</span></div><br /><div><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-xZIT-zRsUis/VTbUShpR8iI/AAAAAAAAH1Q/7dos502ROyw/s1600/IMG_2796.JPG"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-xZIT-zRsUis/VTbUShpR8iI/AAAAAAAAH1Q/7dos502ROyw/s1600/IMG_2796.JPG" height="480" width="640"/></a></div><div><span>Also, these purple mushrooms. Patagonia, you so cray.</span></div><br /><div><span>Monday morning we set out to crush issues. The first mechanic we went to told us he unfortunately did not do welding work, but recommended a mechanic that did. He also said he didn't do electrical work [windows] but took a look at our windshield wiper fluid line and had it apart in seconds. He ran to his shop, grabbed some new tubing, ran it in for us, and in less than 10 minutes it was fixed. We were stoked, and asked how much. He waved it off. “Please! How much?!” we pleaded with him. “Nothing, really. Have a great trip!” came the reply. People are great.</span></div><div><br /></div><div><span>We headed to the other mechanic to do the welding, asking around and finally finding the <i>jefe</i> [boss]. He took a look and said that he couldn't do it, but gave us directions to another welding shop. Pulling in, we asked the man working there if he could fix it. “I think so, but you'll need to wait for the <i>jefe</i> to see for sure.” 20 minutes later the boss showed up and gave us the green light...for the next day. At this point, just having something scheduled was good enough for us. :) From there we went to the auto electrician's shop and explained our window situation. Since a rodent had chewed through the windshield wiper fluid hose, and there were wires next to it, we figured the critter had gotten those wires too, since we'd already checked the fuse for the windows and it was good [and some of the other items on the fuse still were working, including the driver's window]. The man asked for the keys, hopped in the car, and started checking the windows. 15 seconds later, the passenger window is lowering. Shocked, we frantically asked him how he did it. “Magic!” came the reply with laughter. Then he pointed to the child safety lock button. Laughter immediately bubbled up from my throat. Almost a year driving this thing full time and somehow I'd never done this before, nor figured out what the button was for? Figures, but at least it was a cheap fix!</span></div><div><br /></div><div><span><span>Sweetcakes just returned from the mechanic's with her frame all patched up. Tomorrow we continue north on the Carretera Austral. Hasta pronto, amigos!</span></span></div>